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Sotheby’s Greek Sale fetches new records for art November 22, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Auctions.
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High prices for works by Lytras, Gyzis, Parthenis

Nikiforos Lytras’s ‘Festival in Megara’ became the most expensive Greek painting ever sold at an auction. The buyer, who remained anonymous, paid 1,138,396 euros at Sotheby’s in London last week. The auction had total revenues of 7.3 million euros, also a new record. It should be pointed out that the record-breaking painting had previously gone under the hammer by the same auctioneers, but went unsold.

The Greek Sale at Sotheby’s held in London on November 15 produced a number of exciting records. Not only did Nikiforos Lytras’s “Giorti sta Megara” (Festival in Megara) turn out to be the most expensive Greek painting ever sold at auction, but record prices were garnered by works by Nikolaos Gyzis, Constantinos Parthenis, Nikos Engonopoulos, Theofilos and Yiannis Spyropoulos, among others.

A study published recently highlighted that Greek sales organized by major auction houses have turned the local market for works of art into one of the fastest growing internationally, along with the Russian, Chinese and Indian markets and the new records set in London last week show exactly that.

Lytras’s painting, sold to a buyer who wished to remain anonymous for 1,138,396 euros, broke three different records: It became the most expensive work to be sold at a Greek Sale (surpassing yet another Lytras painting sold at a Sotheby’s sale last year for 1,082,215 euros), a record for a 19th century Greek artist and a record for the artist. The sale, with total revenues of 7.3 million euros, set a whole new record as well.

It should be pointed out that the record-breaking “Festival in Megara” had previously gone under the hammer by the same auctioneers, but went unsold.

“The fact that in the last three years so much has changed means that the Greek market is entering a more mature phase,” Constantinos Frangos, of Sotheby’s Greece, said. “A number of new buyers from various countries have now entered the game. At last week’s sale works were sold to Germany, for instance, without us being able to determine whether the buyers were German or Greeks living in that country. These kinds of sales might well attract foreign investors in the future,” he added.

On the subject of the sale’s overall success, during which 97 of the 126 lots were sold, Frangos noted that all the works were of high quality.

Following the Lytras masterpiece, Nikolaos Gyzis’s “I nea afixi” (The New Arrival: The Birth of Telemachos Gyzis) reached a record-breaking level for the artist at auction at 906,457 euros. The same was true of the third-highest sale, Constantinos Parthenis’s “Nekri fisi brosta stin Acropoli” (Still Life Before the Acropolis), which sold for 674,517 euros. Another work by Gyzis, “O pappous prosferei mila sto engoni tou” (Grandfather Offering Apples to his Grandchild) reached 591,682 euros, while Nikos Hadzikyriakos-Ghikas’s “Greco-Roman” went for 525,413 euros, also setting a new record for the artist at auction.


Nikos Hadzikyriakos-Ghikas retrospective at the Benaki November 22, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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Greek artist Nikos Hadzikyriakos-Ghikas was born 100 years ago

The Benaki Museum pays tribute to a great Greek personality, both on a local and international level, artist Nikos Hadzikyriakos-Ghikas (1906-1994), with an exhibition at its new wing. A retrospective exhibition of the master’s works goes on display at the Pireos building beginning today.

The artist himself had donated a large portion of his works to the museum, along with a building on Kriezotou Street in downtown Athens which will soon house a new museum showcasing Hadzikyriakos-Ghikas’s oeuvre.

The works > The exhibition includes 120 oil paintings, 300 sketches, most of them unpublished, 30 sculptures and 40 engravings.

Art historian Dora Iliopoulou-Rogan is the exhibition’s curator. She also undertook the editing of the lavish, bilingual and richly illustrated catalog.

A multifaceted, gifted man, Hadzikyriakos-Ghikas was a painter, sculptor, set designer, author, poet and intellectual, a humanist in the Renaissance sense of the word. He is one of the few Greeks who gained international recognition from a very early age.

New Wing of the Benaki Museum, 138 Pireos street and Andronikou street, Gazi, Athens, tel 210 3453111-3. To January 21.

Thessaloniki drawing the crowds November 22, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
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First days of 47th film festival show strong audience participation, good response from big directors

Costa Gavras: ‘Digital filmmaking is a real revolution. And, like every revolution, it has its upside and its downside. Every change alters the way we produce and watch movies.’

If audience participation is the measure of an event’s success, then the 47th Thessaloniki International Festival has kicked off with the best of omens. The movie theaters are jam-packed, tickets are selling out fast and the public appears to be interested in active participation more than any other year. Does this mark the rebirth of a long-lost group spirit? Or is it due to filmmaker Costa Gavras, who, in his first-ever appearance at the festival, managed to bring together public press and artists, and even Greek President Karolos Papoulias?

“I am honored, Mr President,” Costa Gavras said by way of welcome to Papoulias at the Olympion Theater on Sunday evening for the screening of Laurent Herbiet’s “Mon colonel” which Costa Gavras wrote and produced. “The honor is mine,” replied Papoulias, who arrived at the theater accompanied by Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis. The audience’s warm applause meant more than just your usual reception. “Politics is the way in which we live in society,” the acclaimed director said at his master class on Monday. Yesterday, Wim Wenders and Walter Salles were due to follow with their own analyses of their approaches to cinema.

And while this informal meeting of great artists in Thessaloniki reveals that their greatest concern is the future of the art of cinema and the challenge of digital technology, Greek cinema, with the exception of a handful of new directors, seems unwilling to put its ear to the ground and take in the message of the times.

The John Cassavetes movie theater at the Thessaloniki pier was filled to the brim yesterday for Costa Gavras’s master class, where the filmmaker answered questions about the future of digital cinema as well as his own take on social and political cinema.

In response to Thessaloniki International Film Festival director Despina Mouzakis’s comments on the digital distribution of films, Costa Gavras said: “The Americans are already using satellite phones for this and some 30-40 percent of their movie theaters are equipped to screen digital films. But this American advancement gives it a hegemony over the industry which is of concern because there is the danger that it will designate what films are shown and for how long. Inevitably, small independent theaters will be at risk because of the financial cost of this changeover,” he said.

“Digital film is a real revolution,” Costa Gavras continued. “And, like every revolution, it has its upside and its downside. Every new technique, every change, alters the aesthetic and the way we produce and watch movies. The colors in digital cinema resemble the old technicolor. A new aesthetic is being created which we may really like in the future. But I am not one of those people who will argue that my times were better. Change is good. When we did ‘Z’ we had no money. We would put the camera in a box and cover it with a duvet. It doesn’t matter what type of camera you use; it matters what you put in front of it.”

Costa Gavras came down very hard on television, arguing that it was playing a very poor educational role: “What I am afraid of is that the audience is beginning to think that what television shows is good. We live in a society full of images, so it is important for people to able to see what is behind them. Schools must give lessons in cinema, not in order to change the audience, but in order to have a more aware audience.”

Related Links > http://www.filmfestival.gr/2006/index.php?pg=main&ln=en


Powerful female presence November 22, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
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Karim Ainouz’s drama ‘Suely in the Sky’ follows the director’s critically acclaimed ‘Madame Sata’

Strong female appearances, good direction and serious weaknesses in terms of screenplay are the first indications at the International Competition of this year’s Thessaloniki Festival.

The most well-rounded film so far is Karim Ainouz’s “Suely in the Sky” which comes after the Brazilian director’s critically acclaimed “Madame Sata”. The Walter Salles produced film tells the story of a 21-year-old mother trying to ensure a better life for her child, while also trying to live her own life as a young woman.

In “Day Night Day Night” by Julia Loktev, a young woman arrives in New York City by bus with plans to train as a suicide bomber. Who is behind the plot or what her motives are are never revealed. All we know is that she wants to die so that she may be reunited with a loved one.

A third film, Gerardo Naranjo Gonzalez’s “Drama/Mex” stands out for staid directing and a rather chaotic screenplay. The Mexican director’s young woman leaves home to become a prostitute. Set in a decadent Acapulco, the characters, like the city, seem to be in search of a clear new role for their future. And while Gonzalez appears to know how to lead them, he doesn’t appear to know where to.

‘Soul Kicking’ stands out among Greek films November 22, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
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In terms of audience enthusiasm, one Greek film that has stood out at the 47th Thessaloniki International Film Festival is Yiannis Economides’s “Soul Kicking” which created a buzz at last year’s late-night screenings.

The director of cult hit “The Matchbox” broadens the scope of the insular, aggressive and consuming universe of the typical Greek household from a single home to a lot of different apartments. He pushes his characters to their limits. The dialogues are like the end of language, being spat out rather than spoken.

Whatever objections one may have to the directorial approach that in “The Matchbox” came as such as surprise and relief only to become somewhat trapped within its very form in this new film, “Soul Kicking” still defies the conventional and transcends the ordinary.

Most of the other Greek films showcased at the festival have settled for a passive approach. One exception is the documentary “Sugartown” by Kimon Tsakiris, while the other three Greek films screened so far seem destined for obscurity.

A range of cultural sites around Attica November 22, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Architecture Greece, Hellenic Athens Festival.
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New projects in the pipeline > The Avli ton Thavmaton, The Backyard of Miracles, will house a Folk Art Museum.

The Athens Festival theater performances and the events after the shows at the Tsaousoglou factory on Pireos Street were such a success that the Culture Ministry is planning to make them permanent. The Ministry has decided to buy the factory complex outright and make it a cultural venue.

The complex covers 3.4 hectares and comprises five buildings listed for preservation, which will be used for cinema and for performances of theater, music and dance. The courtyard will be used for art exhibitions. This space will become part of a cultural itinerary from the former Royal Estate at Tatoi to the Faliron Delta that the Ministry is planning.

“I want it to have an independent board of management and artistic director,” said Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis, who professed himself a fan of the “Athens Concert Hall model of management.”

The Ministry will probably get a loan from the National Bank, which owns the property, and the project may also be in line for funding from the Fourth Community Support Framework.

Another major project in the pipeline is the construction of the Athens Archaeological Museum in the area of Plato’s Academy. No antiquities have been found on the site of the Museum, but the space is suitable, and land use and construction terms have been settled.

The Museum will house the antiquities that have been found in the city of Athens in the past 50 years, including many treasures that are currently locked away in storage. Culture Ministry staff are already working on the study for the buildings, and the Minister intends to include the project in a Fourth Community Support Framework program.

Meanwhile in Monastiraki, an old Athenian neighborhood will come to life in a block bounded by the streets Adrianou, Areos, Kladou and Vrysakiou which is owned by the Ministry, and where the Church of Aghios Elissaios, the foundations of Aghios Thomas Church and the stairs of the Logothetis residence are situated.

The building of the Avli ton Thavmaton (or Courtyard of Wonders), reputedly where the Parthenon sculptures were stored briefly before their removal to London, will become the permanent home of the Museum of Greek Folk Art.

Extra stops on Athens metro by 2009 November 22, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Transport Air Sea Land.
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Four new metro stations in Athens’s southeastern suburbs will be ready by the end of 2009, Public Works and Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias said yesterday.

The new underground stations (Ilioupolis, Alimos, Argyroupolis and Hellenikon) will be located on an additional 5.5-kilometer train line that is expected to help ease traffic congestion in the district.

The time needed to reach Syntagma Square, central Athens, will be cut to 15 minutes with the train as compared to the 45 minutes needed to cover the same distance currently by car, said the minister. An estimated 80,000 commuters are expected to use the new train line when completed.

Ministry officials also said that work is currently being completed on the presidential decree that will turn the previous international airport in Hellenikon into a park. Construction activity on the new park is expected to start in April, according to officials.